My D&D group has been running the excellent Sunless Citadel dungeon crawl, from Tales of the Yawning Portal. The group is Roland (my Aasimar Paladin), Slith (dragonborn rogue), Egdul (dwarf barbarian), Evan (human ranger/warlock) and Dri (dragonborn barbarian, replacing our wizard). Last time, the group had just defeated a group of hobgoblins guarding over a goblin community…
The group headed into the adjacent room, which they determined (through Slith’s listening at the door) was the goblin’s common area. Evan—who had multi-classed to a warlock—used his awakened mind power to send a telepathic message to the goblins, urging them to flee. The group burst in, and the goblin commoners panicked and ran.
The only foes remaining were a goblin cleric and some powerful hobgoblin warriors. As they saw the group, the cleric cast spirit guardians [a particularly nasty spell for low-level characters, which circle the caster and cause a lot of damage]. The spirit guardians took out Slith—who had slunk in close to try and sneak attack the cleric. Evan fired a volley of arrows while Egdul charged, killing one of the hobgoblins.
Roland shouted a challenge to the cleric, attempting to use his abjure enemy Paladin power to frighten the cleric. This failed, so he cast blessing on the remaining group members as Egdul and Evan continued attacking. Roland then charged into the fray, but was immediately knocked out by the hobgoblins. Egdul, who had taken a lot of damage by this point, soon joined him.
Evan retreated, firing as he went. Meanwhile, Roland nearly died from his wounds [I failed two death saving throws; one more and I would be permanently dead]. Suddenly, Roland’s celestial guardian blessed him, and he was revived [I rolled a natural 20 on my next death saving throw]. He healed Egdul and Slith as Evan was backed into a corner. The revived group charged from the rear, and killed all their enemies.
[By this point I decided I needed to adjust my strategy with Roland. With a lot of damage inflicted by other party members, but very little support (especially after we lost Azaban) Roland was really needed to buff the party. I began to focus more on this aspect of my paladin, downplaying front-line fighting for defense and protection]
Gathering their wits, the group chased down one of the fleeing goblins for information. Facing an intimidating Aasimar, the goblin told them the apples they sold to the village came from a tree that grew in the lower levels. After resting, the group headed down the pit they had found.
They climbed down successfully, but their gnome cleric friend [who we forgot about during the last fight] slipped. The group watched in horror as he fell the entire length of the pit, landing as a pile of goo. Before they could react, skeletons and twig blights emerged from the shadows. The group easily dispatched them, and moved on.
Exploring the twisting passageways, the group bumped into a trio of bugbears. The bugbears proved a challenge, landing a few good blows on Roland and Egdul. But they managed to kill two before the third surrendered. Roland successfully intimidated him into giving them directions to the tree before letting him go [I was still working out how to role-play an Oath of Vengeance Paladin and think this wasn’t the right approach].
Continuing on, the group found two goblins torturing a rat with prison. Roland killed one in rage, and ordered the other one to flee. The group continued on, passing other rooms with goblins and skeletons, and a fungus farm. [we were trying to finish the adventure before we ran out of time in the session]
They came on a room with a large dragon statue. Slith climbed it to get at some gems when a shadow appeared and attacked. Roland moved quickly against it, destroying it in a burst of radiant damage [I used divine smite with a war hammer blow, which was enough to destroy it. It was pretty cool]
The group moved on, exploring some empty rooms. They found what seemed to be a study, and took scrolls of faerie fire and entangle and a treatise on druidcraft.
Exhausting the twisting passageways in the cavern, the group found an opening to the outside. They followed it into a foreboding wooded area. They came on a cage holding a man and woman. The group freed them, and the man explained he had set out with the woman and her brother (the villagers they had been sent to save) to explore the mystery behind the apples. He told them the goblins had tortured and killed the woman’s brother, causing her to go into shock. Roland burst into a fit of rage, smashing a tree into kindling, while the others tried to comfort the freed prisoners. Meanwhile, Dri—a dragonborn barbarian who had been wandering around the woods—came on the group. He offered to help for a share of the treasure. Roland was irritated with his mercenary approach, but agreed [a replacement player for Azaban]
The man pointed out where the mastermind—an evil druid—could be found, and the group moved on. As they were weary and low on spell slots, they decided to be strategic. Slith and Evan snuck up to assess the situation. They saw the druid and two hobgoblins within the ruins of a wall, standing by an evil-looking tree. Letting the rest of the group know, they came up with a plan. Slith and Evan would climb onto the walls. Roland would cast entangle on the druid, then Slith and Evan would attack him; the others would try and attack from a distance, to wear the enemies down.
They launched the attack. The druid and two of the hobgoblins were caught in the entangling vines, while Slith and Evan nearly killed the druid with their attack. The druid called for them to stop, so he could explain everything. Roland refused to deal with the evil-doer (who he had now adopted as his sworn foe) and the rest of the group agreed [everyone wanted to fight]. Slith and Evan fired another volley at the druid, killing him.
The rest closed on the hobgoblins, confident of their victory when the man they had rescued attacked Roland from behind. He had turned a sickly grayish color, and had immense strength. Slith attempted to help Roland, but was knocked out. Roland held off the man until Evan, Egdul and Dri could kill the hobgoblins and come to help.
Finding the woman knocked unconscious, but alive, they revived her, and returned to the village…
[we ended kind of abruprtly because we ran out of time, so didn’t really conclude. I think the DM may have this run directly into Tomb of Annihilation, but he hasn’t told us yet, so tune in for future posts…]
That’s it for the Sunless Citadel, an adventure deserving of its legendary status. In a future post, I will discuss why it’s so great. I can’t promise that post will come next week; as I announced on Twitter, my wife gave birth to our second child last week. It’s hard to write blog posts in a sleep-induced fog (I had pre-written these). But I’ll try to get it up as soon as I can. Thanks for your patience.